Rudolf Nureyev Enters our Life: Part 4

I thought we were done with the Nureyev posts, but apparently, not so.  When ‘Nureyev enters your Life’, he’s not leaving the stage that fast!

And so it goes, Anna wasted no time in updating us on the Nureyev expo in St. Petersburg, this time sending us actual video footage of the event.  Of course, I shared the link with Elizabeth, who was eager for a translation of the inside story!

So here it is – the translation of Russia K’s News Channel footage from January 29, 2018.

1. Valentin Baranovsky's photo of Nureyev (1989)

The exhibit “Rudolf Nureyev. The Last Visit.” has opened at St. Petersburg’s Museum of Theatre.  The exhibit features the work of photojournalist Valentin Baranovsky in 1989.  At that time, the legendary “defector” Nureyev came to Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), met with his past teachers and colleagues and even performed on the stage where his career began.  Here is Valeria Kudryavtseva (Russia K correspondent) with the details. 

The short return of Rudolf Nureyev to his homeland – was in the realm of miracles.  Almost no one believed in such a possibility.  In a remarkable coincidence, the exposition “Rudolf Nureyev. The Last Visit.” opened at the Theatre Museum in St. Petersburg, located in the same building (complex) as the Vaganova Academy, of which Nureyev was a graduate.

2. St. Petersburg Museum of Theatre
3. Valentin Baranovsky's photo of Nureyev at Vaganova Academy in 1989

The exhibit captures the moment, in a larger sense, of which Rudolf Nureyev for many years could not even dream of – the return to his homeland, his dear Leningrad, Vaganova, Mariinsky Theatre (at that time called Kirov).

Valentin Baranovsky comments on this photo (#3):

This is the Vaganova Academy, and Rudolf is standing in the very place where he studied as a boy.  Of course, he walked around with sadness, see how his face is here – not so happy. 

The assignment of photographer Valentin Baranovsky was to capture Nureyev’s entire stay in Leningrad on camera.


Here he is at the airport carrying his own luggage without the help of a baggage handler (photos 4-5).


Meeting with friends (photo 6).

Rehearsing Sylphide (photo 7) …


… walking out onto the stage of the Kirov Theatre (photos 8-10).


Frames capturing authentic moments, touching close-ups. A life, which very soon became history.

11. Valentin Baranovsky talks about Nureyev's 1989 vist

“I didn’t know that he was ill.  I found out only towards the end, about this situation.  In all the photos I did at first, I didn’t pay attention to his eyes.  There was some kind of suffering in them.  The deep mar of life’s experiences – sometimes you look, and see a sort of parting, a heaviness in the eyes.”

– Valentin Baranovsky.

The fact that despite everything, Nureyev came to Russia, is in many ways a credit to Oleg Vinogradov. The choreographer, who headed the Kirov Theatre for many years during the soviet era, repeatedly visited the dancer in Paris, disguised in a wig and dark glasses. Later on, he obtained permission for Nureyev to visit Russia and stage Sylphide.

“Whenever we met, his priority was to educate me, to show me things I had not seen… costume sketches, decorations, fabric samples.  To show me the footage of ballets I had not seen. To introduce me to choreographers, productions,  I had not known.  My meeting him, knowing him is a priceless gift in my life,” – said the People’s Artist of the USSR*.  (photo 13)

13. Oleg Vinogradov talks about Nureyev at 2018 expo
12. Oleg Vinogradov with Rudolf Nureyev
14. Valentin Baranovsky's Nureyev photo album
15. Valentin Baranovsky

With several times the number of rare photos in the exhibit – Valentin Baranovsky presents the photo album “Rudolf Nureyev. The Last Visit.” at the opening of the event.  Even on social occasions he doesn’t put the camera down.  You never know, when a moment in time may require your work.


Russia-K (short for “Russian Kultura” or culture) is a Russian television network, broadcasting culture and arts-oriented shows.

Images in this blog are screenshots of Russia K's Nureyev expo video, which showcases Valentin Baranovsky's work. Exceptions are photos 1, 3 and 7 which are actual photos from Baranovsky's archives. Photo 12 source is unknown.


*People’s Artist of the USSR is arguably the highest honorary title given to artists of the Soviet Union, a title which today is known as People's Artist of the Russian Federation.